The Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) has called for legislation against child marriage in Nigeria to end teenage pregnancy.
In a statement to mark this year’s World Population Day, ARFH President, Professor Oladapo Ladipo, noted that teenage pregnancy is associated with high maternal mortality and morbidity – anemia, induced abortion, pregnancy induced hypertension and obstructed labour resulting in vesicovaginal fistula (VVF).
The theme for this year’s celebration is adolescent pregnancy.
The non-governmental organization said adolescents and youths in the country must be provided with age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education to help them develop the knowledge and skills they need to protect their health.
Apart from education and information, ARFH stated that good quality reproductive health services must also be readily available for adolescents to make informed choices and be healthy.
“Adolescent pregnancy is not just a health issue, it is a development issue. It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child and forced marriage, power imbalances between adolescent girls and their male partners, lack of education, and the failure of systems and institutions to protect their right.”
Through The Universal Access to Reproductive Health (Y-ACCESS Project), funded by DFID, ARFH said it has engaged in capacity strengthening and reproductive health improvement intervention including access to reproductive health information and services by adolescents and young people (aged 10 – 24 years) in four northern states (Benue, Jigawa, Katsina and Niger) of Nigeria.
As a principal recipient of Global Fund, the organization added that it has provided oversight functions to the Federal Ministry of Education to enhance the capacity of teachers to be able to deliver factual Family Life and Reproductive Health and HIV Education information to in-school adolescents using the curricular based approach.
ARFH maintained that young people including adolescents in Nigeria constitute a significant proportion of the population and face unique challenges which should be addressed if their health and developmental potentials are not to be compromised.